6 Time-Management Tips for Going Back to School
One of the more common goals that adults have involves going to school to earn a degree. For some, this might entail returning after a period of time to pursue a second degree, while for others it might involve going back to school as an adult learner for the first time. While this can be an exciting goal to reach toward, learning how to make the necessary lifestyle changes to manage time is important.
Adult learners, also known as non-traditional students, typically have life responsibilities such as families, existing jobs, health issues, and other limitations that can make it difficult to fit in the time and energy to pursue a college degree. After all, there are only 24 hours in a day and existing responsibilities can take up a large chunk of this time. So how can an adult learner adapt their life to also have the necessary time to devote to their studies? While circumstances can greatly vary, the following tips can help with finding the time to be a successful college student.
- Take an inventory of how your time is already committed to understand just how much free time you will have to devote to school. I have worked with adult learners who find it eye-opening to actually write down where there time goes, and how much of this time is wasted and could be put to better use such as going back to school.
- A rule of thumb for college-level courses is that for each hour in the classroom, you will need to devote 3 to 4 hours for homework each week. That means a 3-credit course will consume anywhere from 9 to 12 hours per work in being in the classroom, reading, studying, doing assignments, etc. Being a full-time college student is like having a full and part-time job in terms of the time requirements. These numbers can easily go up for graduate-level and doctoral-level work. While online education has certainly made being an adult learner easier in terms of fitting school into your life, online education is not necessarily less time consuming.
- Once you have done your time inventory, understand that school is not something you fit into your life when you can find some free hours. You have to have dedicated time each week for your school work whether this involves taking one course a semester at a community college or being a full-time student at a university. Without this, you will be on a path to burnout by having to cram your study time in at the last minute. It just doesn’t work.
- Use a digital or paper calendar and block out your time commitments for each week. You can color-code for family time, work, school, and other responsibilities you have to see just how you will allocate your time. The key is to be proactive in establishing your calendar and then sticking to it as it requires quite a bit of discipline in being a successful adult learner. The key is for you to manage time rather than time managing you.
- Enlist the help and support of family members to take on some of your responsibilities to free up some time for your school work. While this might be hard to do if you feel guilty for going back to school, you are actually modelling to your family members important life lessons around growth and cooperation.
- Finally, practice self-care. The bottom line is that we all have the same 24 hours each day to work with. While we can differ on how these 24 hours get utilized, it is possible to rearrange your life to support your going back to school, but you also need to eat healthy meals, get plenty of sleep, have fun, and be around positive people who support what you are doing.
While going back to school might seem to be a daunting undertaking, remember that millions of other adult learners have found ways to make it work, and so can you. As an adult learner myself, I support you in your journey to pursing your educational dreams. It is worth it and so are you!